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Printed Woman

 

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I'm happy to announce that my first forray into science fiction is now available on Amazon in Kindle format, and it paperback. If you buy the paperback, you get the Kindle version for free.

In the distant future, the entire universe is ruled by a king, travel at millions of times the speed of light is possible, and 3D printers can print anything, living or dead. People are printed as slaves, as government officials, and as food for an alien race. When professor Claudia Germanica learns that she was printed, she and two of her students set in motion the wheels of rebellion.

Gracchus Brutus Andronicus, the murderous young son of the Plantagenet Prelate, is tasked with putting down the rebellion. His methods are marked by an impetuousness not tempered by wisdom and experience. The rights of man do not enter into his calculus.

Read an Excerpt

Deleted Scenes

Note from the Author

Book Club Discussion Questions

 


 

Excerpt

Chapter One (partial)

 

Earth-Like Planet No. 27 (ELP-27), orbiting a star near the center of a galaxy 200 million light-years from Earth.

 

The peoplemover snaking above her cast its yellow light over the wet streets like flung gold.  Although raining, which it usually did in the habitable zones of this dreary planet, Claudia chose to walk. She couldn’t stand mass transit, with its soul-crushing hordes jammed into filthy tubes of jaundiced light. The best part about walking was that the streets were deserted, so she had time to think, and space to breathe.

In a doorway cut into the black granite of a monstrous corporate building sat an old man wearing rags and sitting on a sheet of plastic.

“How are you, Frank?” she asked.

He looked up at her with a gray face, dry in spite of the watery world in which he wallowed. “Doing very well, ma’am, thank you for asking.”

They had the same conversation every day.

Frank said, “Can you spare an old man a bit of the monetary unit of this planet?”

She smiled faintly. She had talked to Frank many times and knew that he had been around the galaxy in which this rainy planet and its solar system floated. First as a merchant marine, and then as a soldier. It was the soldiering part that left him begging in wet, deserted streets. She tossed him enough monetary unit to keep him in sandwiches and booze for a day or so.

“Thank you kindly,” Frank said.

She nodded to him. “You’re welcome. Now take care of yourself.”

She had asked Frank once why he sat in the streets when there were social programs and shelters that would take care of him. His only answer was that in the street he was free. On the “inside,” as he called it, he was the minion and slave of the govern­ ment. On the outside, whatever he got was through his own efforts or the charity of others. If he went without, it was for the lack of one of those two things. Either way, no one told him to hold out his hand, or to keep it in his pocket.

She arrived at her apartment building. The security system recognized her and opened the door. She took off her hat, shook water from it, and got into the elevator, which also recognized her and took her to her floor.

Her husband, Martin, met her at the door. “You’re soaked. Don’t you know enough to come out of the rain?”

He kissed her, took her briefcase and hat, and helped her out of her dripping coat.

“You know I hate public transportation,” she said.

Martin hung the coat on a rack. “I’ve never understood that. It’s quicker, and it gets you home relatively dry.”

“It’s the chaos of it. Forget the smell and the germs, I can deal with that. But the whole operation is utter chaos.”

He handed her a towel. “All right. Dry off and change your clothes, we’re about to eat.”

A fat, gray cat lay in a ball on the sofa not bothering to raise its head.

She changed and returned to the dining room. The electronic fireplace mounted to the wall blazed its artificial yet soothing light into the room, and electronic candles burned in silver holders on the table. Mozart streamed quietly from the sound system. All was golden, wood-paneled coziness.

She sat at the table and Martin put a plate in front of her. She leaned over it to take in its smells. Roasted beef with potatoes and green beans. All fresh, rather than the artificial or reconstituted garbage one got at the market. She wasn’t sure where he got the stuff, but there were small agricultural operations that tried to produce food similar to what one still found on Earth.

She was thankful that Martin excelled at this sort of thing. Best of all, next to her plate was a glass of Cabernet Sauvignon from a planet, the name of which she could not pronounce, but which was dedicated to the production of fine wine. Something about the soil and its distance from its sun. Maybe a genetic tweak here and there.

She took a forkful of beef. Delicious. She swallowed it with wine. “This is wonderful. You would have been burned for sorcery in an earlier time.”

He smiled. “Thanks, I do my best.”

“How was your day?” she asked.

“Unexciting, as usual. I’m a mathematician, for God’s sake.”

She nodded. “Two exciting people. A professor of philos­ ophy and a mathematician. No wonder all the cat does is sleep.”

He laughed. “Yeah, but look at the luxurious surroundings we have. The kitchen barely has room for two. Four people can fit into the living room, and the bedroom is about the size of one found in a small, cheap hotel.”

“It’s all quite clever, really,” she said. “They give us enough to serve our needs, but just. Take away a centimeter here and a micron there, and the place would not be functional. It’s all meant to keep us quiet. The government can do as it pleases, and no one will complain because they have enough to eat and a decent place to sleep.”

“Be careful, my philosophical friend. It’s cliché, but true: the walls have ears.”

She felt a tinge of guilt. They were on this planet in exile because of her writings. “Indeed.”

“And how was your day?” he asked.

“I had a most interesting visit from one of my students after the lecture today.”

“What was the topic?”

“Everything is a lie.”

He leaned back. “Ah, one of my favorites. That sets certain of them on edge.”

“Yes. You can always tell who the thinkers are, and who either has bought into the whole thing, or who doesn’t care.”

“What did this person want?”

She sipped her wine. “She suggested that the idea of everything being a lie was bullshit.”

“Her words?”

“Yes. Shocking, is it not?”

“It certainly is. It borders on sedition.”

“No. Well, yes, but I mean the fact that she used such lan­ guage with her professor. I remember a day when we garnered some respect.”

He laughed. “I remember you telling me more than once that one or other, or all, of your professors were full of shit.”

“Me?”

“Absolutely.”

She sat back, holding her wine glass by the stem. “At least I was respectful to their faces. It never would have occurred to me to say ‘bullshit’ in front of them.”

“It’s a different world we live in,” he said.

She took a sip of wine. “Indeed.”

 

 

 

 

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Deleted Scenes

One of the hardest things for an author to do is to cut, but it has to be done. The following was Chapter One, but I decided to take it out. Judge for yourself.

 

Original Chapter One

 

 

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"The peoplemover snaking above her cast its yellow light over the wet streets like flung gold."